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Saturday, September 24, 2022

The number that Bill Russell didn’t want to take back

Legendary Bolton Celtics player requested that his number not be taken back when he announced he was leaving basketball

Bill Russell’s No. 6AP
  • Basketball Bill Russell, Celtics icon and one of basketball’s greats, passes away

Bill Russell didn’t want a big ceremony. They decided to see how people reacted to the departure of Bob Cousy, the first star of Boston Celtics, Tears, cheers, bouquets of flowers. It looked like he was dying and not giving up basketball. He also didn’t want his bib to be removed and hung over the Boston Garden. He said, “It is me who is taking back. My number, let him do whatever he wants.” The number 6 he had already made eternal by winning 11 rings in 13 seasons, and that no one else in the NBA would wear: the league announced that all franchises would retire their number in honor of the greatest winner of all time.

,i have little faith Applause, what does this mean and how long will this last,” wrote Bill Russell second wind, One of the best memoirs of a basketball player, although he hardly talked about what happened on the court. A book written with the wounds is still raw (1979, a decade after his retirement), and where he revealed further reasons, when Red Auerbach offered him his number with the Celtics back. But one condition was laid: that the ceremony was held outside behind closed doors.

,Boston was a flea market for racism, He had it in all its varieties, and almost all in its most toxic form,” writes Russell, though he skips the worst episodes. Like the time his house was ransacked because he was a wealthy, had moved to a majority-white area. The attackers wrote ‘nigga’ (a derogatory form of ‘black’) on the walls and defecated on his bed, among other things. A city capable of celebrating its sporting achievements, while Reminds him of his own kind of place.

“I would rather be imprisoned in Sacramento than the mayor of Boston,” he would say years later. His sin was twofold: being black and openly fighting for civil rights. not being limited to play basketball, In fact, he was called ‘Felton X’ among players, a play on the memories of his middle name (William Felton Russell) and Malcolm X.

It would have been barbaric hypocrisy for the same city to fire him between tears and applause, A place he didn’t want to go back to in the first years after his retirement. By 1972, already working on television, he had to comment on the Celtics’ home game and was ambushed by Auerbach.

14,000 vacant seats

the first time that Celtics retired number By Bill Russell, the ceremony was preceded by approximately 14,000 vacant seats. There were three hours left for the game to begin and the pavilion was still closed. There, apart from a handful of former colleagues, there were only activists, orators, and a few visionary journalists.

In some images that have survived from the moment the banner was raised number 6 24 is sewn into a small corner next to Sam Jones, there are only six people. Auerbach, Russell and Tom Heinsohn, former teammates and successors on the bench, are seen wearing suits. In short, Jon Havlisek, Sach Sanders and Don Chaney were the only ones other than Don Nelson who were still active among those they matched with.

“I’ve played for the Celtics, not for boston“, he wrote of that unusual decision. It was partly due to recognition and his hatred of public events (he led a very retired life until his third age), but also with that city. Because of their relationship where they brought so much pride, as he showed in his presentation as coach seattle supersonics, Barely a year after the ceremony.

“It’s been a very painful experience and I’ve got some scars,” he confessed. “We won 11 rings and even after the last people in Boston were telling me there were a lot of blacks in groups”.

Bill Russell will take decades reconciliation with Boston, and it was not until 1999 that the Celtics paid tribute to him with another ceremony to retire his number. This time with the public, provided that part of the profits go to organizations that help young people.

only two examples

Bill Russell was one of the players who, like Wilt Chamberlain, Maurice Stokes or Elgin Baylor, marked the development of basketball in the mid-20th century. He won air for a sport that lived on the ground level. The fact that he did so by winning 11 rings with the Boston Celtics makes him one of the greatest in history. He also used his loudspeaker to fight for civil rights, it is transcendent.

So the NBA has decided remove her number 6 bib In all franchises. Players who currently wear it will be able to keep it – LeBron James, for example – but no one else will be able to use it from now on.

in american sports There are only two examples: Jackie Robinson’s 42 in the MLB (the first black player in the major leagues) and Wayne Gretzky’s 99 (the all-time leading scorer in the NHL).

Robinson belonged to a lineage of black athletes who, as Bill Russell He used his privileged position in the sixties to demand social justice. A stream that would remain closed for decades, in the heat of stars who understood that the confrontation lost them money, like OJ Simpson (“I’m not black, I’m OJ,” he said) or Michael Jordan, and that last years I have gained strength.

After Robinson’s death, his daughter called Bill Russell with her last wish: that he be one of the men who they will take his coffin,

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Reference from www.elmundo.es

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